Five years since Argent last addressed an AJ100 Breakfast Club, joint chief executive David Partridge told delegates at the quarterly Claridges event this morning: ‘There is a diversity of different uses at its heart – that makes King’s Cross a place that people want to go to’
In a wide-ranging talk about Argent’s concept of ‘whole placemaking’, Partridge also touched upon the crucial role infrastructure plays in making places work, the meaning of sustainability, why the designers they work with have to understand the market Argent aims for and the developer’s new status as an LLP.
Partridge, described the 27 hectare site, ‘as very much a work in progress’ that couldn’t have happened without Argent’s £250 million investment in site infrastructure, including a district-wide heating system. ‘Altogether, including the works upgrading St Pancras and King’s Cross station, the total infrastructure spend is in the region of ‘£4 billion’ he said.
But the real success of King’s Cross, comes from its mix of function. Partridge was especially pleased with the impact Stanton William’s University of the Arts, London retrofit of the Granary warehouse. ‘It brings culture and fashion right into the heart of the site’ he said. Partridge also praised the quality of housing schemes recently and nearing completion by PRP and Macreanor Lavington.
On sustainability, Patridge said: ‘It’s not just about getting BREEAM excellent, or even installing a district heating system. We think that’s normal. For us, sustainability is about creating projects that live on after the development phase. You need to build in bottom-up entrepreneurial thinking in the places you create.’
Discussing Birmingham, where Argent ‘first cut its teeth’ on its Brindley Place development, Patridge said architects still had to be appointed to a number of sites for the Paradise Circus, masterplanned by Glen Howells. ‘That will take shape over the next 3-10 years. We’re looking at 8-10 buildings to move forward.’
On becoming an LLP, Partridge said it will help Argent fund projects in new ways, without having to recycle monies from plot sales.
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